Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest Public Radio

Wildfires Reveal Gaps In Emergency Planning For Thousands Of Migrant Farmworkers

Thousands of farm workers living in wildfire country are particularly vulnerable in times of emergency. One problem is that warnings in Spanish don’t reach everyone that needs to hear them.
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Suppressing Wildfire May Cause More Severe Fires Long-Term, Say Researchers

13 hours ago
Max Whittaker / Reuters

This policy of fire suppression is one the US has followed for over a century. Some scientists, however, are beginning to question this strategy. There is a growing consensus of researchers who believe suppressing forest fires might actually be causing more severe fires, and worsening climate change long-term.

Photos courtesy families of the firefighters.

Family, friends, and fellow firefighters gathered Sunday at a memorial for the three young men who were killed battling a blaze in North Central Washington.

InciWeb

Light rains and higher humidity helped firefighters slow the spread of wildfires burning in North Central Washington on Sunday. More favorable weather is expected this week.

Multiple times this summer, the sighting of a wayward hobbyist drone has grounded aerial firefighting aircraft at Western wildfires. But unmanned aircraft have the potential to be useful at wildfires too.

US National Weather Service Spokane Washington

A very bad scenario looks to play out Saturday when it comes to the weather and fires burning in North Central and Northeast Washington.

While the weather forecast looked promising Thursday in calling for rains to hit both regions, the newest prediction could not be worse when it comes to the wildfires.

Meteorologist Andy Brown of the National Weather Service in Spokane is calling for sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph Saturday, with gusts up to 50, and even higher gusts in the mountains.

This has been one of the worst — and most expensive — wildfire seasons ever in the Northwest, where climate change and a history of suppressing wildfires have created a dangerous buildup of fuels.

With fires burning hotter and more intense, there are renewed calls to change how the federal government pays to fight the biggest fires.

"These large and intense fires are a natural disaster in much the same way a hurricane or a tornado or a flood is," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. "And they ought to be funded as such through the emergency funding of FEMA."

CREDIT AUSTIN JENKINS / NORTHWEST NEWS NETWORK

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the fires burning across the state represent a “new normal.” On a tour of the fire lines Thursday, the Democrat reiterated his call for a program to limit carbon emissions.

“So we got to attack this at its source which is carbon pollution. And that’s for another day. Right now we’ve got to put out these fires,” said Inslee.

The battle continues to contain dozens of large wildfires burning across the Northwest. Firefighters are hoping for a break in the weather this weekend -- and perhaps even some rain.

A new report Thursday from the Oregon Secretary of State says lax enforcement has allowed hundreds of de facto casinos across the state. Non-tribal casinos are banned by the state constitution.

CREDIT CHRIS LEHMAN / NORTHWEST NEWS NETWORK

With the surge in wildfires this year, firefighters are facing a new challenge; interference from drones. 

Unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft are being flown near active wildfires.  The safety issues they cause can keep aircraft grounded—and keep them from the frequently critical task of dropping retardant. 

“Flying a drone near a wildfire is putting someone else’s life in danger, whether it be firefighters on the ground, pilots in the air…your drone hobby is not worth someone else’s life…”

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